F1 Australian GP Race | Carlos Sainz wins in dominant fashion from Leclerc and Norris after Verstappen’s brake explodes

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari
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After a tense qualifying yesterday the lights turned green for the formation lap. With Zhou Guanyu starting from the pitlane and Logan Sargeant having to give up his car to teammate Alex Albon there were just 18 cars on the grid, and at lights out it was Max Verstappen who had a clean getaway, while both Mercedes-drivers gained a place.

With DRS this year enabled after just one complete lap Carlos Sainz immediately seized the opportunity and passed Verstappen into turn 9, to the delight of the Australian fans. The championship leader complains about a loose car, while a little puff of smoke seems to come from the back of the Red Bull.

A few corners later it has developed to a full blown fire as the right-rear brake of the RB20 has somehow decided to meet his maker. The Dutchman drops back, returns to the pits and the marshalls immediately bring out the extinguishers. Visual inspection shows that the brake drum was completely disintegrated and the reigning World Champion is out of the race.

And while everyone is recovering from the excitement all the soft-shod drivers have changed their tyres for the hard option. George Russell is the first one to stops as a driver on the medium tyres.

Valtteri Bottas has once again a bad stop, and again it seems to be an issue with wheel nut. Charles Leclerc is the first one of the frontrunners to stop and he is joined by Oscar Piastri. The feared degradation seems to be there . Lewis Hamilton has a little excursion through the grass on the inside of turn 2, but loses just a little time.

Sainz start to lay down a pace of one second per lap faster than Sergio Pérez and Lando Norris, creating a gap of a little over five seconds. Leclerc quickly disposes of Pierre Gasly and Nico Hülkenberg, while Fernando Alonso closes gap to Sergio Pérez.

In lap 14 Lando Norris stops together with Pérez. And with their extended stint Norris loses places to Leclerc and Piastri, while Checo loses a spot to Lance Stroll and immediately has to defend agains Hamilton. The Briton is impressed by the speed of the Red Bull as he can’t launch an actual attack on the Mexican.

Race leader Sainz stops in lap 17, right at the moment that Hamilton blows his engine. And with Fernando Alonso in the lead the Virtual Safety Car is called, giving the two-time World Champion a cheap pitstop, bringing him back out on track behing both Ferrari’s and McLarens.

Alex Albon in meantime is in the points with his borrowed chassis, while Pérez passes Lance Stroll. The replay shows that Esteban Ocon also has brake issue, apparently a tear-off got stuck in the brake duct.

After about a third of the race done Pérez passes Russell. Sainz starts to increase the gap again after the Ferrari pitwall has called to hold positions and manage tyres. Haas gives the opposite call and lets Hülkenberg and Magnussen switch, as the German driver is on the medium tyres.

Alonso is the next one to be passed by Pérez, while Sainz keeps adding to his lead. Piastri and Norris swap halfway through to dismay of the crowd, but the young Briton is quicker than the young Ozzy. Albon drops out of points due to his second stop, while hometown-hero Daniel Ricciardo drops to last after his stop.

Fernando Alonso kept close to Pérez and gets back in DRS-range, while Norris starts to close the gap to Leclerc. The Monegasque driver complains about his left front tyre and stops a little while later. He gets back on track right in front of Pérez and Alonso. The sole Red Bull driver stops at the end of the lap, dropping behind Yuki Tsunoda.

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing

Zhou is the next one to have a pitstop issue at Kick-Sauber, as he cannot get away from the box. Albon and Hülkenberg have a little scrap going into Turn 11, where the Haas-driver moves a little bit too much to the Thai’s liking. And while Norris is closing the gap to Sainz the next stop at Kick-Sauber does go well, as Bottas’ stop was remarkable enough for the director to replay it.

Piastri makes a mistake in turn 13 and stops next lap. Teammate Norris follows a lap later and gets back about four seconds behind Leclerc, who stopped a little earlier. One more lap later Sainz stops to preserve his lead, followed by compatriot Alonso. Tsunoda passes Gasly into turn 11.

Alexander Albon has lost the connection to Hüllenberg and comes under pressure from the other Haas.. The Dane tries to pass into turn 9 but Albon slams door. A lap later Magnussen tries again into turn 11 but fails. Another lap later Magnussen succeeds into turn 9 and can create a little gap. Gasly in the meantime gets penalty of 5 seconds for crossing the pit exit line.

Up front Sainz controls the pace in front of teammate Leclerc, who needs to keep managing his tyres. Norris cannot really close the gap yet, but does show he is the better of the two McLaren-drivers today.

With five laps to go Russell is in DRS-range of Alonso, while Norris slowly closes the gap to Leclerc. Leclerc counters with the fastest lap, with Sainz losing a little time with the backmarkers. The two-time Grand Prix winner complains a little about his tyres, and while he enters his last lap his third victory gets sealed as George Russell completely writes off his Mercedes in turn 6. The sole Mercedes-driver loses the car going into the turn and slams the outside tyre barrier. The left rear gets under the car and almost flips it.

The Virtual Safety Car is again deployed, and both Ferrari-drivers cross the line for a one-two finish, led by Sainz. Behind Leclerc it is Norris who completes the podium. McLaren-teammate Piastri comes home fourth before Sergio Pérez. Alonso and Stroll finish sixth and seventh, with Tsunoda eighth in front of both Haas-drivers, with Hülkenberg leading Magnussen.